Top Five Conference Sessions of 2018!

After attending a myriad of conferences this year I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the sessions that made the most impact. Check out my top five conference sessions of 2018 below (in no specific order). Want to learn a bit more about the conferences I attended? Check out my blog Which Conference Is For You?

Preservation Philosophy- Looking Back and Looking Forward

Where: Association for Preservation Technology

Who: David Payne, Ilene Tyler, Stephanie Hoagland, and Mary Kay Jude


Why: The APT conference is set-up to have tracks of four 20-minute sessions that are grouped with similar sessions and a moderator is on hand to ensure the group stays on track in the 1.5hours. Each presenter in this track delved into preservation philosophy and topics not typically discussed at preservation conferences. The highlight for me was Stephanie Hoagland’s  “Art or Awful: The Preservation and Conservation of Graffiti.” She discussed why individuals may construe nudity in fine art as “art” and why in graffiti it is construed as “lewd.” Her presentation showed examples of historic graffiti and contemporary graffiti being preserved and presented on conservation strategies. She posed the question of the ethics surrounding the preservation of art that was meant to be impermanent. I am still thinking months later about if/when graffiti should be preserved and best methodology. 

The Archaeology of Imbibing

Where: Preserving Historic Places, Indiana’s Statewide Preservation Conference

Who: Nicolas Laracuente, Cassie Medeiros


Why: This session combined a few of my favorite things: food, discovering lost history, and finding ways to use preservation to connect the two. Laracuente, the bourbon archeologist, and Medeiros, the moonshine girl, edified the crowd on strategies to locate old distilleries/ stills and methodology to preserve the history. In Kentucky, Laracuente led the discovery of Buffalo Trace Distillery’s earliest fermentation tanks from the 1800s (click here to learn more). He was able to advocate for the preservation of these below ground resources and now the distillery (a National Historic Landmark) has turned the archeology find into a heritage tourism opportunity. Medeiros documented moonshine stills in Alabama, while pursuing her graduate degree. Her research was able to identify the location of stills in an effort to pursue historic designation for these archeological sites. What is particularly intriguing is her research led to an understanding that a community historically tied to alternative or illegal economies is more likely to be a contemporary community that is tied to alternative or illegal economies. With archeology typically perceived as the discovery of items from hundreds of years ago, this session put a twist on what the field is/does. 

Communicating in Crisis

Where: Heritage Ohio Annual Conference

Who: Mary Glauser

Why: Is your organization prepared for a crisis? What would your organization do if someone fell on a tour and was hospitalized? What would your organization do if someone chose to drink and drive after your annual fundraiser? These were a couple questions posed during Communicating in a Crisis. Glauser delved into strategies for an organization to prevent crisis (ex: background check volunteers prior to accepting their donated services), how to plan for crisis, and how to handle crisis in the aftermath. Her tips and strategies will be considered as I manage organizations and create events. I highly encourage you to consider creating a crisis plan/toolkit for your organization and to reach out to Glauser when you choose to prepare yourself for any situation. 

Creating Vibrant and Healthy Cities For All 

Accessible art is can improve quality of life in a community.

Accessible art is can improve quality of life in a community.

Where: Main Street Now

Who: Gil Penalosa

Why: Penalosa is the founder and chair of “8 80 Cities,” an internationally recognized nonprofit that works to make cities a dynamic place to live whether you are 8 or 80. His fast paced presentation format delved into tactics that add energy to a community, strategies to encourage multi-modal transit, and the importance of age diversity to the health of a community. Honestly, the best way to describe the presentation is to encourage you to visit the nonprofit’s website and watch their videos. You will fall in love with this creative urban planning organization. 

Allyship in Preservation

Where: PastForward, the National Trust for Historic Preservation annual conference

Who: Lauren Hood, Mia Nakano

A historic poster on display at the GLBT Museum in San Francisco.

A historic poster on display at the GLBT Museum in San Francisco.

Why: This 1.5hour long session could (should) have lasted all day. Hood and Nakano thoughtfully delved into how underrepresented communities could best be supported by the preservation community. Historic preservation is interwoven with social justice/equity and activism. To be a successful historic preservationists we need to be good listeners and to know when to step back and empower instead of taking the lead. Nakano presented the concept of “protectively open source,” which in a nutshell means: the ability to consider what content is accessible online and how it pertains to an invidual’s personal well being and/or safety. For example: Your organization has oral history videos and transcripts online. If an individual at any time no longer feels comfortable having that information online, your organization would be willing to remove it from public access. The presentation concluded with work groups to consider what we can do better in our communities.